When Did The US Military Start Issuing Hearing Protection


And before it was standard issue for combat troops what if anything was common for front line guys to use to protect their hearing?
Don't know the answer to your question, but I've known quite a few folks who worked around early jets in the 50's and 60's who were hearing impaired - and a few who were actually deaf.

My FIL, who worked for Boeing Wichita for 36 years starting in the early 50's, was one.
I entered it 1991 and it was a standard uniform item in the Armor world.

You used to wear earplugs from the button of your BDU pockets, with the unit crest on the earplug case.

We wore them in combat when I first deployed in 2004.

At least in '90; flightline work.
My father started his Navy career in 78 and any time he was on board a ship I remember his ear plugs hanging from his pocket. I assume he wore them in loud areas of the ship but he has lost a lot of hearing.

As far as combat today, it's very dependent on what you are doing. In my experience the guys riding in vehicles all wore the Peltor/Bose ear muff style internal communication systems. Everyone who dismounted took those off and didn't wear anything.

It's issued, it's inspected prior to going on a mission, but rarely if ever did I see it worn.
The WWII generation is mostly gone. It seemed to me that most of those guys were stone deaf. The guys I have met from later conflicts seem to have faired better which got me thinking about hearing protection as a possible answer.
No hearing protection in the 60's in Vietnam.
Terata is pretty close. Army was doing the plugs in the button hole thing by 74. Marine Corps started pushing them a couple years later; but too late to save my hearing. High freq was gone by then.
Agree with Terata. Had them at my Armor BOC at Fort Knox in Jan75. Agree with TrinityAG on the BDU button hole location, too, later on.

Read your posts on SSG Romesha on other threads, Trinity. You did good on his behalf and America's behalf as well. God speed.

I've always been curious about this. So for the guys who have served in combat, how does it affect communication between team members or the ability to hear enemies while clearing houses. I realize hand signals and all...but it seems like it could also cause problems.

I have tinnitus and slight hearing loss due to firearms and playing drums for 20+ years. I can't imagine trying to clear houses with muffled hearing.

[This message has been edited by 04txag007 (edited 2/14/2013 9:29a).]
I was at Fort Sill for Summer Camp in 1970. No hearing protection (other than sticking fingers in ears when shooting mortars or 106mm recoil less rifle). Switched to Air Force for opportunity to fly. Vaguely remember ear plugs and muffs being "available" but never pushed. Didn't like wearing ear plugs under flight helmet and too much trouble to remove and store before putting on helmet. No where to store muffs in a fighter cockpit subject to negative G's. Our maintenance troops did wear muffs though.
I have paid the price though. I am very conscious now as old fart, competitive shooter trying to maintain what I still have.
1987 naval aviation

we used the roll up foam ear protection then and they apparantly had for a few years
Everyone I know who actively cleared buildings used Peltors. Wearing those you can comfortably have a conversation speaking normally at a firing range. Amazing things!
Also, all the radio comms were routed through them.
Even though hearing protection was available, it wasn't always used as "required." Any soldier, marine, sailor, air crapper who has ever been on a flight line, an airborne operation, helicopters, armor, infantry in the field, or combat can tell you punching something in your ears as the guns go off ain't the first priority. I did have HP, but I also suffered a high frequency hearing loss and have tinnitus after 25 years on active duty. HP helped, but it did not the issue. I volunteered, I knew the job was dangerous when I took it, I accept the consequences of my actions. I would still spend time on active duty if I had to do it all over again.

[This message has been edited by terata (edited 2/17/2013 8:13p).]
I accept the consequences of my actions

not many of us left. I salute you sir.
What? Say again.
At ROTC Advanced Camp in 1992, I remember going through the medical screening station and getting fitted for earplugs and then they stamped in our medical records:
They came in 3 sizes
Had a pair of earplugs as part of my uniform for my fatigues hanging from the top button hole when I joined the Army in 1976.
Late 70's I felt the ear plug case was a part of the uniform to be seen and not used. As an artillery officer I preferred spent primer casings. Of course, I have bad hearing and even worse with respect to my wife (selective hearing)so the primer case short cut in not having to open and close that little plastic case might not have worked out so well after all. But when you're young and bullet proof...
Started flight school in AF in 1984. Issued
Fort Knox OSUT in 1990

Issued ear plugs during reception. Was a part of uniform during all training and then in Germany.

Let the 1SG catch you at the range without using hearing protection and it was your ass, your PSG's ass, your tank commander's ass etc.
We were issued ear plugs when I was in Tech school in '59 and they were available to us throughout my career. An amusing thing about ear plugs, some aircraft had plastic jars in them which had something that looked like bubble gum in them. It was actually ear plugs made from soft wax impregnated cotton. You would roll them between your finger and thumb and form them into a sort of cone then insert them in your ears. I've seen several guys pop them in their mouth and bite down before realizing it wasn't meant for human consumption.

Redpot, If you forgot your ear plugs when you went to the firing range they made us put empty cases in our ears. These were .30 Carbine empties and later they started isueing muffs for us to use with or without plugs.
Still have the ones I was issued by the army in 1975. Wear them every time I mow, weedeat or till.
I entered active duty in 1971 and I remember having to carry ear plugs, although I obviously didn't insert them into my ears often enough. I also remember having to put a red dot on the face of our watches to remind us of safety. I'm still here so I guess it worked.
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